Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Genetically modified crops - chart by country

In 2009, the main genetically modified crops grown, by country:
Acres (millions) Crop type
United States 158.1 Soy, corn, cotton, canola
Brazil 52.8 Soy, corn, cotton
Argentina 52.6 Soy, corn, cotton
India 20.7 Cotton
Canada 20.2 Canola, corn, soy, sugar beet
China 9.1 Cotton, tomato, poplar
Paraguay 5.4 Soy
South Africa 5.1 Corn, soy, cotton
Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications

Which modifications are the most common?
The most commonly used biotech trait, 62% worldwide, is herbicide resistance. These plants have been engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate, often sold under the name Roundup. This allows farmers to plant their seed, let the weeds and crop grow up, and then spray glyphosate, killing only the weeds but not the crop. It has led to "no-till" crops where farmers don't have to plow, decreasing soil erosion, water loss and the release of carbon.
The second most commonly grown genetically modified crops, 16% worldwide, are various Bt varieties, which have had a gene from a naturally occurring soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis added and produce a mild pesticide. The same protein these crops produce also is allowable in organic agriculture because it is considered natural and non-toxic.
Varieties that contain both traits make up 21% of genetically modified crops, according to the International Agency for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.